ECON 501
Economic Growth and Development Fall 2019
Division II
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Class Details

This course introduces some of the major theories and ideas about economic growth and development. Motivated by a number of stylized facts from cross-country data, we will begin by posing a series of questions: Why are some countries rich and others poor? Why have some countries grown at high rates over extended periods of time, while others have experienced little or no growth? Do all economies face comparable challenges to achieving sustained economic growth? Will poor countries catch up to rich countries or are they doomed to stagnate in a poverty trap? To answer these “big” questions, we will explore the underlying mechanisms of economic growth. What role is played by savings and investment (i.e., the accumulation of physical capital)? What is the influence of population growth? How important are investments in human capital (i.e., education and population health)? How important are technological differences across countries? How much significance should we ascribe to differences across countries in geographical characteristics? How much should we ascribe to differences in the quality of institutions? For each question, we will explore different theoretical and empirical strategies developed by economists to answer the question, ranging from formal models to historical and anecdotal evidence to cross-country growth and development regressions. We will evaluate the usefulness of the different approaches to each question for informing development-promoting and poverty-alleviation policies, and we will also discuss the reasons why so many important questions about economic growth continue to remain difficult to answer.
The Class: Format: seminar; discussion
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: problem sets, one midterm exam, and a final exam
Prerequisites: ECON 251, ECON 252, and (either ECON 255 or STAT 346); undergraduate enrollment limited and requires instructor's permission
Distributions: Division II

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